Image courtesy of H&M

Waste Clothes, Not A Waste At All

Published 30/11/2020
By: xxx Published: d/m/Y

In every industry, there are milestones that change everything. Turning points where things will never be the same as they once were. In fashion, those points have been everything from female liberation and independence to music subcultures and famous quotes by people with power. Some points are smaller, some are bigger, but every decade has its own stone or even stones. However, there is one stone in the modern time that just seems to throw a shadow on all the other ones and that is obviously sustainability. Because there is one huge thing that separates sustainability from all the other turning points in history. That is if we, the companies and the consumers, don’t change the way we think, act, buy –that stone will not only be a milestone but a grave stone.

How’s that for drama?

The biggest responsibility lies with the ones with the most capital. In tech, big companies has always been good at investing in smaller more innovative (and many times younger) companies to keep the industry moving and stay on top. Somewhere between big margins and thousands of collections, the fashion industry has stopped developing. Now is the time to take actions and together push for a more innovative and sustainable fashion industry. And although admitting to having a long way to go before reaching their sustainability goals, H&M are working on getting there.

Image courtesy of H&M
Image courtesy of H&M

Last week me and Linn met with H&M’s Creative Advisor Ann-Sofie Johansson to talk about the new Conscious Exclusive Collection launching tomorrow December 1st, the latest innovations in sustainable fashion and how the pandemic has changed the way they think within the H&M design team.

“I don’t know if you have noticed but this year’s Conscious Exclusive is much smaller than usual. We have removed all those pieces that don’t really make sense in the collection but whom we loved anyway. All the darlings were killed if you know what I mean. Of course, it’s the pandemic affecting us, it’s neither economical nor as a creator defendable to make huge collections anymore. We all need to shop less and choose better, so we figured, let’s start as early as with the design process” Ann-Sofie says.

Smaller, fewer collections are of course a great way to help the consumer to invest wiser in fewer pieces. But it also encourages creativity. My generation, the millennials, and of course generations before us has gotten so used to expressing ourselves through clothes that it has gotten out of hand. Because when you think about it, expression via style is the opposite of having everything new every season. But that has gotten lost somewhere between outfit pictures on Instagram and the very sensitive conversation about what personal style is.

Isn’t true creativity making the very best of what you already have?

“For me, pieces that actually make most sense buying, are those garments you bring out when you don’t know what to wear. Many of those pieces you will find in this collection” Ann-Sofie continues.

“Sustainable design is about much more than the production stage and fabrics, it’s about what happens with the pieces after they leave our stores. The clothes in the Conscious Exclusive Collections are made to be loved and worn many times. We have so much statistics and information about fashion that we basically could do collections based only on what our customers like. But AI (artificial intelligence that is) does not detect soft values. That is why the smartest thing we all can do as costumers, is to use the things we do buy over and over and when we no longer do, we can pass them on to someone who will”.

Reeducating people to shop less and choose better is all of our jobs now. But time is ticking and companies who have the possibility need to invest in knowledge for things to speed up. In October H&M introduced something Ann-Sofie is quite sure will be the future of fashion and of H&M. In one of H&M’s Stockholm stores one can bring old pieces of clothing only to see them come out as something entirely new. The innovation is called Loop and to quickly explain it, it’s like a machine chewing your old socks and spitting them out like a shirt.

Image courtesy of H&M

Ann-Sofie Johansson continues “In the future, we hope to be able to use Loop for our main productions as well, but right now there are only two of them in the world. For this Conscious Exclusive Collection however, we have focused on turning waste into full fabrics. This we have accomplished with a little bit of help from old and new friends like Hemp Biofibre™, made from oilseed hemp crop waste, and Naia™ Renew, a cellulosic fiber sourced from circular content. Another amazing innovation is Made of Air®, a material partly made from waste biomass of which we have made sunglasses. VEGEA™, a vegan leather, is also a material we have been using previously but it has gotten so much better I must say”.

A large part of the recycled polyester from the collection is made out of old clothes and post-industrial plastic packaging and PET bottles. The Conscious Exclusive is used as an incubator collection and was created for the group to be able to try new materials and innovations that are eventually used in H&M’s main collections.

The Conscious Collection will be available in a limited edition tomorrow December 1st online at hm.com.

Linn is wearing a
recycled polyester off-shoulder dress and Vegea™ and recycled polyester shoes from the H&M Conscious Collection.

I am wearing a cropped blazer and trousers made out of Naia™ Renew & silk from the H&M Conscious Collection.

Published 30/11/2020

Fanny Ekstrand is a writer, creative consultant and founder of Hobnob. She says she is the master of vintage shopping and knows all the pasta dishes in the world.

Comments (5)

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  1. E
    By Embla

    though i think this is a valuable point of view, and that it’s good that brands like h&m are doing some more sustainable collections, i think it’s important that we don’t ignore or forget how horrible they are for the environment. h&m are famous for greenwashing (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/hm-greenwashing-sustainable-circulose-venetia-falconer-manna-a9312566.html), and making it seem like these “conscious” collections in any way make up for the emissions they are responsible for every year. i know that they’re trying to do better, and that is great, but they’re the definition of fast fashion and until they take drastic mesures to reduce their emissions (and let’s not forget the horrible way they treat their workers), i will not support this brand.

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    1. By Fanny Ekstrand

      Thank you for your comment and you are of course making a very strong point. Let’s never forget the damages fast fashion companies have done and still do, even though they try to contribute to a more sustainable fashion business and future. However, H&M do work with many companies (like Naia and Vegea) that try to make a real change and that was what we wanted to highlight with this article 🙂

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  2. fm
    By film modu

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. That is a very neatly written article. Winnie Alasdair Schlosser

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  3. S
    By Silas

    Hey, thanks for the blog. Really thank you! Really Cool. Ardeen Herman Ertha

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  4. V
    By Vivi

    Really appreciate you sharing this article post. Really Great. Vivi Tucker Bergeron

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